I always start the New Year exactly the same way … hung over. Nah, JK. Sure, I always have a good time around the holidays but now that I’m getting to be an old fart I can’t exactly party like I used to. Besides, why would anyone want to wreak that kind of havoc on the most precious thing they’ve got – their body?
When you stop and think about it, your body does a pretty amazing job of taking care of itself. Besides having some pretty well-designed organs to begin with, did you know it’s constantly regulating itself through dozens of hormones like insulin and cortisol? That’s how such a complex organism operates as smoothly as it does.
If you don’t screw it up, your body will last you, well, it’ll last you a lifetime.
So let me ask you this: In what crazy, mixed-up universe does it make sense to decide you’re going to start doing things differently once a year? Why are you waiting to fix what’s wrong or do things right? Why are you not constantly aware of what you’re trying to do and do differently and making corrections as you go, like your body does?
You know, I’ve actually never made a New Year’s resolution. Never. No, I’m not perfect, far from it. But I know what my goals are, I always have some sort of plan, and I work to make it happen every day. Sure, there have been times when I needed to step up the pace or make a change, so that’s what I did. No drama, just action.
As for self-improvement, I use a little system called self-awareness and discipline. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s an awful lot like your hormonal or endocrine system in that it’s sort of self-correcting. If you don’t hide from the truth and you know what you need to do differently, you just sort of do it as best you can.
Sure, you’ll sometimes take a step or two backwards and it might take the better part of a lifetime to be the person you really want to be, but as long as you know where you’re heading, are reasonably aware of your issues, and are generally on a forward trajectory, everything will probably turn out just fine.
I guess the only caveat is if you let yourself get so far out of whack that no amount of minor midcourse corrections will be enough to straighten you out. Like if you’re in major league debt, you’ve got a crappy job or no job at all, you have no real marketable skills or prospects, your relationships suck, you hate your life, that sort of thing.
That’s when you need a serious brick to the head to wake you up.
It’s the same thing with your body. If you do everything possible to screw it up – if you don’t eat right, are always stressed out, never exercise, and don’t get enough sleep – you know your hormones are not going to be capable of making it right. Your body can do some pretty miraculous self-correcting but it can’t do that.
Likewise, if you let your career and business life get so out of control that you’re essentially on a path to nowhere good and the only thing you’ve really got going for you is the hope that something awesome will happen on its own, there’s no amount of self improvement that will magically fix that.
That’s when you need a sort of self-intervention. But here’s the thing. If you have to wait until January 1st to do that, you’ve got bigger problems than you realize. If your life – business or personal – is that screwed up and you really don’t have the will to do things differently, I’d seek professional help, if I were you. And I don’t mean a coach, either.
This may not be what you want to hear but the truth is, at any given time you should have a pretty good idea of where you’re heading and how you’re going to get there. And you should have enough self-awareness, discipline, and drive to keep you moving more or less in the right direction and making midcourse corrections as necessary.
If not, you need to do something about that. Now, not on January 1st. You don’t need any New Year’s resolutions; you need a self-intervention. Consider this your brick to the head.